These days, among other things, the hip-hop release playbook requires an active Facebook account, a fact rap heavyweights Kanye West and Jay-Z are obviously aware of.
Just after midnight on Tuesday (January 11), the MCs gave fans a first listen to "H.A.M," the lead single from Watch the Throne — in exchange for a "like" on the Facebook page for their collaborative album.
The Watch the Throne page uses Facebook's most popular music application, BandPages, to stream the single, and it has amassed more than 57,000 fans in just three days.
"It's great to see artists turning to social platforms to get their music out to their fans. The music release process isn't about radio play anymore — it's about finding fans where they live, getting songs to the people who care," said Brenna Ehrlich, news editor at Mashable.com.
Indeed, this tactic is just another example of a growing trend in the hip-hop community and the music industry at large.
"While people have been able to share their music tastes on Facebook since the beginning, and we saw the emergence of social music applications gain popularity when we opened our platform in 2007, we're still just at the beginning of this new world of music and technology," said Meredith Chin, a staffer at Facebook's corporate communications department. "It will be exciting to see how things evolve over time based on the creativity and imagination of musicians and their fans."
And in the wake of MySpace, the self-proclaimed "entertainment destination for Gen Y," announcing a 47 percent staff reduction, Kanye and Jay-Z's release strategy is just another indication of Facebook's growing share of the social music space.
Recently, both Lil Wayne and Avril Lavigne offered fans similar single-stream capabilities, but Kanye and Jay-Z made their release distinctive by directing fans to an album-specific fan page rather than simply leveraging their existing pages, which are home to 5.4 and 6.1 million fans, respectively.
"I think it was smart to launch their own page, but I would have used both accounts as well. That way fans would be able to easily find the track, rather than going to a brand-new page," Ehrlich said.
Representatives for Def Jam revealed to MTV News that the idea to release "H.A.M." via social-media network came from the dynamic duo.
"It was both Jay-Z and Kanye's camp who set that up," said JD Anderson, manager of new media for Def Jam. "The application also used in the strategy, RootMusic, has the capability to stream music on Facebook."
According to Anderson, the two rappers took advantage of their massive combined Facebook following to showcase the first effort from the upcoming album."We launched it off of Jay's Facebook, then we were sending people to the Watch the Throne new page," Anderson explained. "Kanye has 5 million and Jay has 6 million. Everyone's on Facebook, so the only thing that was lacking was the capability to stream music."
While there's still no concrete release date for Watch the Throne, a rep for Def Jam revealed the LP will drop on the Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam imprint.
Are you a fan on Kanye and Jay's Watch the Throne page? Tell us in the comments!